Haily raced down the tunnel, wanting to be the first one there. They hadn’t had a chance to explore any more doors because of all the graduation hoopla. She couldn’t wait to try the next door. Her bag bumped her leg as she ran. Wouldn’t Irene be surprised, Haily was prepared today!
Haily came around the last curve and stopped, disappointed. Irene sat, her back straight against the wall as she stared at the lavender door across from her.
Haily frowned, alerted by the tension in Irene. Dropping down next to her, Haily saw the large duffel next to Irene.
“Hey,” Haily said. “You beat me.”
“That’s cuz I got ready last night and you had to pack this morning,” Irene smiled. She seemed distant, even when she leaned her head on Haily’s shoulder.
“I don’t want to live in this town any more. My mom, well, she won’t even notice. You’re going to SCU, Billy only has a year left.”
“I thought that you were going with me! SCU isn’t that far away, I thought we’d be roommates off campus.”
“And do what? Serve beer to the college boys and girls? We see how well that worked for Mom. I can’t afford college.”
Haily sat, stumped. It had never occurred to her that it wouldn’t be her and Irene against the world. They had been together since first grade.
Irene was always with Haily’s family, her mom being what Haily’s mom nicely called a “barfly.” She waitressed at the local bar, and went home with whatever man she found that night. Sometimes it lasted a month, sometimes only a weekend, but it was never good for Irene. So they had grown up together, Haily’s parents happy to bring Irene into the fold of a real family.
“So, what are you planning?”
Irene indicated her duffel and backpack. “I got everything important in there. I cashed out my account, since I wasn’t sure if my debit card will work in there. I have a pay cell, figuring if yours worked this one will too.”
Haily was stunned. Footsteps down the tunnel stopped her from saying anything. Frankie came around the corner and saw Irene’s bags and nodded.
“I thought this might be the one,” he said.
“What?? And you didn’t say anything?” Haily demanded, staring at the pale purple door as if it had the answers. “You don’t even like purple.”
Irene smiled. “I know we have one more, but this one just feels like the one.”
“Ok,” Frankie said, “lets do it.”